Cerebral haemorrhagic contusion
Cerebral haemorrhagic contusions are a type of intracerebral haemorrhage and are common in the setting of significant head injury.
Contusions, by definition, result from head trauma, and are thus seen more frequently the usual suspects (young men). Typical causes include motor vehicle accidents or situations in which the head strikes the pavement.
Most contusions represent the brain coming to a sudden stop against the inner surface of the skull (contrecoup) accentuated by the natural contours of the skull (see below).
Cerebral contusions can occur anywhere, but have a predilection for certain locations, as a result of the direction of head strike and the intrinsic shape of the skull cavity.
- floor of the anterior cranial fossa
- temporal pole
- coup and contrecoup pattern
Furthermore the appearance of contusions will vary according to when they are imaged. Typically they mature over a number of weeks, initially appearing as merely haemorrhagic foci, followed by the development of surrounding oedema, before gradually fading away leaving behind more or less obvious areas of gliosis.
In most hospitals CT is usually the first and often only investigation used to assess cerebral contusions. Sensitivity to detect intracerebrale haemorrhage on CT scans is virtually 100%.
Hounsfield units of blood are dependent of protein concentration (i.e. haemoglobin) and haematocrit.
With a haematocrit of 45% the density of whole blood is ca. 56 HU while grey matter is 37- 41 HU and white matter is 30 - 34 HU. So blood should be hypertense in comparison to grey or white matter.
Of note, in anaemic patients (i.e. haemoglobin < 8-10 g/dL) blood may appear isodense in an acute bleeding.
Typically contusions appear as foci of hyperdensity involving the grey matter and subcortical white matter.
Caution : A small contusion near the skull base can easily be overseen on CT scans due to partial volume effects.
Although not often used merely for the assessment of superficial contusions, MRI is far more sensitive to small contusions, especially when T2* sequences, i.e. SWI, are used.
Signal behaviour is strongly dependent on sequence and time since the bleeding started.
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- 2. D'avella D, Cacciola F, Angileri FF et-al. Traumatic intracerebellar hemorrhagic contusions and hematomas. J Neurosurg Sci. 2001;45 (1): 29-37. - Pubmed citation
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- 4. Kim J, Smith A, Hemphill JC et-al. Contrast extravasation on CT predicts mortality in primary intracerebral hemorrhage. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2008;29 (3): 520-5. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A0859 - Pubmed citation
- 5. Parizel PM, Makkat S, Van miert E et-al. Intracranial hemorrhage: principles of CT and MRI interpretation. Eur Radiol. 2001;11 (9): 1770-83. Eur Radiol (link) - Pubmed citation
- 6. Wada R, Aviv RI, Fox AJ et-al. CT angiography "spot sign" predicts hematoma expansion in acute intracerebral hemorrhage. Stroke. 2007;38 (4): 1257-62. doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000259633.59404.f3 - Pubmed citation
Synonyms & Alternative Spellings
|Synonyms or Alternative Spelling||Include in Listings?|
|Cerebral haemorrhagic contusions||✗|
|Haemorrhagic cerebral contusion||✗|
|Haemorrhagic cerebral contusions||✗|
|Intracerebral haemorrhagic contusions||✗|
|Haemorrhagic intracerebral contusion||✗|
|Cerebral hemorrhagic contusion||✗|
|Hemorrhagic cerebral contusion||✗|
|Hemorrhagic cerebral contusions||✗|